Limited Screen Time Best Even for Active Children

More than two hours per day of TV or computer time ups risk of psychological problems
By Lindsey Marcellin
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Watching TV or using a computer for more than two hours each day increases a child's risk of psychological difficulties, and the risk is even higher if the child is not physically active, according to research published online Oct. 11 in Pediatrics.

Angie S. Page, Ph.D., of the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, and colleagues conducted a study of 1,013 children by using self-reported screen-time information and a Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire. The purpose of the study was to determine whether greater screen use was associated with greater psychological difficulties and whether children with high screen use and low physical activity would have the most-negative psychological profiles.

After adjustment for physical activity, sedentary time, and other confounders, greater TV and computer screen viewing time was associated with worse psychological difficulty scores. Sedentary time was inversely associated with psychological difficulties. The risk of psychological difficulties increased by 61 percent for more than two hours per day of TV viewing and 59 percent for more than two hours per day of computer use; these risks increased further in children who failed to meet recommended physical activity guidelines (odds ratios, 1.70 for TV watchers and 1.81 for computer users).

"These data support some restriction of screen entertainment use irrespective of levels of physical activity and indicate that guidelines for both sedentary and physical activity behavior are warranted," write the authors.

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